MTR grinds to early halt for third day running

Local | Charlotte Luo 10 Oct 2019

All train services except the Airport Express were halted at 8pm yesterday for a third day running. Seven MTR stations remained closed for as many days.

Mong Kok and Kwun Tong stations on the Kwun Tong Line, Tseung Kwan O and Hang Hau stations on Tseung Kwan O line, and Che Kung Temple, Sha Tin Wai and Shek Mun stations on the Ma On Shan line have been closed since Friday night.

MTR Corp again suspended all services at 8pm yesterday, except for the Airport Express runs between Hong Kong station and the airport at 10-minute intervals, without stopping at Tsing Yi, Kowloon and AsiaWorld-Expo stations.

All trains were suspended Friday night for the first time after Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor invoked colonial-era emergency regulations to implement an anti-mask law, sparking territory-wide protests and vandalism.

As of Monday, the MTRC said about 1,200 turnstiles, 800 ticketing machines and add-value machines, 900 CCTV cameras, 40 elevators, and 70 roller shutters, had been damaged since the protests began in June.

On the Light Rail, which also suffered vandalism, routes 705, 614, 615 and 751P have been suspended since the Saturday before last.

THe MTRC said the number of damaged facilities increased significantly from those it reported on Friday amid increasingly frequent and intense attacks.

A senior technician working on the Kwun Tong Line called a radio show to say the MTRC does not have enough maintenance staff or available turnstile parts.

He said a customer service center in Kwun Tong was burned down and could not handle ticketing matters, so passengers would have to walk to the other side of the station if they have ticketing issues.

In an e-mail to staff on Tuesday, the rail operator's chief executive Jacob Kam Chak-pui said Friday was the most devastating day in the history of the MTR.

He said the destruction that night was so extensive the railway could not operate safely, so the company had no choice but to suspend services on the entire network on Saturday and limited services on subsequent days.

"Radical protesters maliciously vandalized and set fire to several MTR stations, causing extensive damage to our infrastructure and resulting in extremely serious impact on our services. What is even more distressing is that two of our colleagues were attacked and injured while carrying out their duties," Kam wrote.

He applauded all frontline and maintenance staff for their "unfailing efforts and perseverance to keep the rail and property services going during this tough and turbulent time."

The MTRC closed 13 of 94 urban stations from the start of operations on Tuesday, the first working and school day after the long Chung Yung Festival weekend - but later reopened Po Lam and Tai Po Market stations. Except for Airport Express, all other train services ended at 8pm on Tuesday.

Residents said the traffic congestion was less severe in Tseung Kwan O yesterday than the day before.

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